September 16th, 2014

Listen Up!

listeningOne of the most often asked questions by parents at the library is how to help their child be a stronger reader. Like books, struggling readers come in all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and cultures. A child’s ability to read is a result of various factors, and may sometimes be influenced by a language barrier, medical condition, or learning disability.

Trained educators know that early intervention can make a world of difference for a child. Many techniques and strategies, some not involving letters or words at all, can dramatically increase a child’s ability to read. One technique is utilizing audio books.

Audio books are CD’s or other forms of digitized media, on which stories are recorded as a person (or sometimes a cast of readers) reads them. The reader’s voices of these books bring characters to life, and the readers adjust the tone, speed, and volume of their voices to dramatize the story to the fullest potential. Many adults love audio books. We listen to them on long commutes back and forth to work. We listen to them while we clean our houses.

Somewhere out there, though, there is a feeling that children must physically read books. That listening to them is somehow cheating; not beneficial. In most cases, that is just not true.
Listening to audio books is actually one technique that can make a dramatic difference in a child’s ability to read. Listening to an audio book, while reading the book simultaneously, is even better! Studies show that listening to a story being read, while reading along, improves comprehension and fluency.

This is where your local library steps in.

Did you know that the Cecil County Public Library has entire collections of audio books for children?  We have audio books for beginning readers, like the popular Bob Books series available as a CD Book, where the CD is packaged directly with the book. Cecil County Public Library offers several CD Book titles in our EZ Reader section, like titles from Cynthia Rylant’s series “Henry and Mudge,” or “Fox in Socks,” by Dr. Seuss.

Classic favorites by award-winning authors, as well as new titles, are available in our picture book area.  Maybe a child in your life would like reading along, while listening to, a book by Kevin Henkes or Patricia Polacco! More challenging CD Books are available in our chapter book areas. We encourage you to check out the book with the CD Book, and listen as you read. We carry a slew of popular titles and series in CD Book format, from Junie B. Jones and  Magic Tree House, to 39 Clues, Little House on the Prairie, and Harry Potter (just to name a few). Why not listen to a children’s book on your way to school or sports practice?

For technology-hungry families, have you considered downloading audiobooks? CCPL has thousands of titles, click here.
Whether you are looking for strategies to help a struggling reader, or just a new way to enjoy a great book, try out an audio book and let us know about your experience the next time you stop by!

What’s your favorite audiobook?


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August 25th, 2014

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

school busForget January 1. As the parent of a school-age child, the first day of school rings in the real New Year where the optimism shines as brightly as the new first-day-of-school outfit.  My son, though, has never been able to fully revel in this joyful season.  Instead of inspiring him with talk of a new start or lofty resolutions, his ever cynical mother can offer only real-life, social-doom-related adages, such as never ever leave your lunch tray unattended at any time for any reason or let your cosmetologist cousin “fix” your hair the day before class pictures.

This summer, I resolved to rediscover the magic of a new year by reading and watching characters reinvent themselves. My favorites included:

Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen
Rebecca, a once famous photographer, finds herself stuck in a raccoon-infested cabin in rural New York consumed by worries about money and her stalled career.  Relaxing into daily life with her quirky neighbors and the roofer who traps the rampaging raccoon, Rebecca leaves her old self behind, finding inspiration and a late-in-life second chance in the upstate woods.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
Once renowned L.A. architect Bernadette Fox finds both the people and weather of Seattle eroding her sanity. Attempting to plan a long promised family trip to Antarctica hilariously derails as Bernadette is forced to ever more eccentric means of hiding her agoraphobia. Bewildered by his wife’s behavior, Microsoft guru Elgin Branch attempts a mental health intervention, during which Bernadette mysteriously disappears. Compiled by her daughter, the story uses Internet postings, emails, magazine articles and FBI reports to trace Bernadette’s journey back to her family and a rediscovered life.

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison
A former stay-at-home dad whose wife has left him, Ben takes the job of caregiver to Trev, a teen with muscular dystrophy, hoping to find a purpose in life. Their subsequent road trip in search of Trev’s estranged father (during which they pick up a runaway, a pregnant farm girl and a tail in a Skylark) points the way to forgiveness for Ben’s past deeds.

Doctor Who: The Second Series – DVD

The poster child of reinvention, Dr. Who’s regeneration in “The Christmas Invasion” features murderous Santa robots, a deadly spinning Christmas tree and a plot by the alien Sycorax to enslave the human race.  Putting his own stamp on the beloved character, David Tennant’s debut as Dr. Who encapsulates both the confusion and excitement wrought by a brand new start.

Busy Monsters by William Giraldi
Jilted by his fiancée for a giant squid hunting oceanographer, Charles seeks to win her back by embarking on a manhood-proving quest of his own. Confronting Bigfoot, alien abductees and other questionable creatures, he fights his own self-created monsters on a comic road trip to true love.

All good intentions aside, as my son left the car to wait at the bus stop all I could think to say was to sit toward the front, keep your eyes forward, ears closed and hands to yourself. I was rewarded with a massive eye roll and just the hint of a smile. I guess there’s always next year.

What’s your favorite back-to-school advice?


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